Hands-On Preview of .hack//G.U. Vol. 1//Rebirth

Far into the distant future, an online MMORPG has taken the world by storm. Upwards of 20 million users participate in this game, and many more are added daily. The developers of the game, CC Corp, find a mysterious link between online character deaths and the well-being of their human counterparts. This is the beginning scenario of the latest title in the .hack franchise titled .hack/G.U. Vol. 1/Rebirth. Bandai-Namco sent GamerNode a pre-production copy of the game, and here are our hands-on impressions.

The .hack series has been tightly bound to one another, as far as plot development goes. Newcomers to the series would sometimes get lost in the middle of one of the franchise titles and have to do some research to find out what incidents led up to the current storyline in their game. But in this new title, .hack/G.U. breaks the mode and functions as a stand-alone game. While many elements and background details will be familiar to .hack fans, anyone will feel right at home with .hack/G.U. due to the abundance of various devices such as in-game emails, tutorials, news feeds and game hints.

.hack/G.U. mimics an MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role playing game. The interface is novel because it allows you to “logoff” and “logon” to the game. When you are “online,” you assume the character Haseo, and meet other online characters. If you logoff, you are taken to your “computer desktop.” It is here where you can send and receive various emails from game characters, check on news events, change the wallpaper on your desktop and other computer functions. These tasks are all simulated within the game, of course, since this title is for the PS2.

The title is an action/fantasy/adventure game and is played through a fictional MMORPG called The World. This is where you will do many of the things associated with MMORPGs such as joining Guilds, meeting online characters, leveling up your team, accomplishing side missions, and battling monsters, creatures and bosses. The gameplay is part action, part fighting, part RPG and part movie all rolled into one. The cutscenes are very detailed, and unfold the plot of the game in a dramatic and stylistic way. Unlike the other .hack games in the franchise which are more lighthearted in nature, .hack/G.U. takes on a grittier and darker turn in plot development in which Haseo, the hero of the game, goes on a mission to find out how certain members in The World are using powers, outside of administration privileges, to change the very course and function of the game. This goes beyond hacking, as these PKs (player killers) are somehow affecting the human players in the game as well-some are dying and falling into deep comas.

While the plot is intriguing, .hack/G.U. still has some of the signature comedic elements found in previous games. The characters bicker at each other, make sarcastic comments or are just plain rude. This adds some nice moments in the game and helps to make the game more enjoyable. One character proclaims, “I love taking out those pathetic noobs,” in reference to beating inexperienced gamers to a pulp.

Your base of operations in the game is in the Eternal City Mac Anu. From the Dome location in this city, you can enter other “servers” by use of entry words at the Warp station. The game is expansive and not only allows you to visit other places, but also gives you the chance to open up other areas and towns for exploration. Think of the concept something akin to The Matrix. You live in the real world, but enter the virtual world through a computer program.

The battle system is easy to learn and gives you the option of not only using standard physical attacks with weapons and magic, but also special moves using the Skill Switch. These attacks are learned throughout the course of the game and can be mapped to the square, triangle, circle or X buttons of your controller. These attacks are activated by use of depressing the R1 button when a special gauge on the screen is full. In addition, super attacks called Rengeki can be released on opponents when the proper circumstances are met. You can alter your weapons and skills through the menu system by applying attributes, magic or abilities to them. Later in the game, your character will be able to use his Avatar power in his adventures.

There is a nice selection of fantasy creatures to fight, and some of them are quite amusing. Some of these are little round blue creatures called Chim Chims. You must kick these creatures in order to capture them, and these creatures, in turn, open up some of the various passageways and doors in The World. There are also enemies such as Tri Edge, a merciless character bent on killing specific players in the game; Haseo will spend much of his time battling him.

The graphics are done in a combination 3D/anime style, and very well. The cutscenes are dramatic and sometimes lengthy, but not in a bad way, as .hack/G.U. immerses you into the game,s storyline through the use of these animations.

The whole experience of this preview version of .hack was an enjoyable one. The game has a good plot, colorful characters, a nice battle system, good graphics and well-scored music. The combination of a sci-fi plot with fantasy elements will make this game a serious choice for many RPG fans, as well as those interested in seeing what an MMORPG plays like, but who don’t want to spend the time or money to play online. For .hack fans, it is shaping up to be another must buy in the series.

Stay tuned to GN for further details of .hack/G.U. Vol. 1/Rebirthas they become available.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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